Bengals out to erase doubt, break same-old mold
September 10, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
By Jay Morrison
The Cincinnati Bengals will step into M&T; Bank Stadium field tonight looking to make a loud statement above the din of 71,000 screaming Baltimore Ravens fans and a nationally televised audience that still harbors some doubt about the team’s credentials.
For all the success the Bengals had last year — the wildcard berth, the rookie passing and receiving records, the Pro Bowl invites — they still were a glaring 0-8 against teams that finished the year with a winning record, including 0-4 against AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore.
A win tonight against a team some pundits are mentioning as a favorite to reach Super Bowl would give the young Bengals a jolt of confidence and silence some of the skepticism.
A loss, on the other hand, would validate the doubts and the perception the Bengals are like the tag-along little brother who can’t quite keep up, leaving them winless in their last seven games against the Ravens and Steelers.
“It’s an important game for us,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “We have to play poised football. We know it’s going to be a physical game — they understand that. We know what it’s going to be like. Starting any season, that’s an important thing to do and prepare for.”
Both of the losses to the Ravens last year were close in the fourth quarter, with the Bengals falling 31-24 in Baltimore in Week 11, and 24-16 in the season finale at Paul Brown Stadium.
In the first game, Andy Dalton recorded a Bengals rookie record 373 passing yards, but he also registered his only three-interception game of the season.
The ideal recipe tonight would be for Dalton to have far fewer than the 45 attempts he did in that game last year. But the Bengals may have no choice but to rely on the pass because the running game remains one giant question mark.